Family as a key to unlocking Pacific People’s potential in the workplace.

“As the Pacific population grows, so does its potential to contribute to New Zealand’s
economic goals, if Pacific people are able to anticipate the future and if employers are ready
to take measures that will support greater development and advancement for Pacific
employees.” 4

Family is the cornerstone of Pasifika culture.

For Pasifika women like myself this is particularly true. As a Pasifika woman I appreciate
workplaces that are understanding of our responsibilities to our family, our cultures and
provide flexibility to take time off to deal with family issues. As Pasifika people we value
employers that are supportive (just like any other group of people in the workplace) and
supported workers are productive workers so believe me you will see an increase in
productivity and a better workplace culture. As they say culture eats strategy for breakfast…

What about working in teams.

For Pasifika people in the workplace there is a strong preference for working in teams rather
than individually. “Work teams” are often perceived as a ‘work family’ and for employers this
can help workers to feel supported and also assist in the integration of new team members
into the workplace quickly.

In terms of reward and recognition, Pasifika people in the workplace may be less likely to be
motivated by advancement and/or promotion compared to non-Pasifika. Promotions can be
viewed as being accompanied by unnecessary stress and pressure and may only be taken up
if the increase in pay is perceived to adequately compensate for the increased level of stress
and responsibility.

As Pasifika people we appreciate the importance of employers who promote a culture where
it is psychologically safe to raise concerns (for example, around health and safety) or to say
‘no’. Yes that’s right, saying no for us is difficult. An example of this is in Pacific cultures it’s the
challenging of elders and those of a higher chiefly status which can be seen as disrespectful.
Language issues or a lack of understanding and confidence in raising issues can result in issues
not being raised. This is why you might have experienced the “yes, yes” or “yes boss” with the
appropriate “head nod” to affirm everything is ok when in actual fact our people just don’t
want to show disrespect to you. Don’t worry it’s not you it’s just how we have been raised. But
don’t let it stop there – be mindful and say I will let you think about it and check back later or
just say it’s okay to say ‘no’.

“Akahi paekehi yae ewelende, wali onomi honomi eungekende”
– Respect others as if they were your brothers and sisters.
If you treat others as relatives, your life will be prosperous and peaceful. 5

4. www.efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

5. Papua New Guinea Proverb Anon